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Sri Lanka: Poet and Teacher Ahnaf Jazeem complains to HRCSL against Colombo Remand Prison for illegal custody

Poet and teacher #AhnafJazeem yesterday (05th) filed complaint with the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) for breach of his fundamental rights to personal liberty, dignity and freedom by Colombo Remand Prison(CRP) Officers, for arbitrarily and wrongfully keeping him in illegal custody, for more than 24 hours, after he was granted bail by the Puttalam High Court on the last 15 December 2021. Ahnaf was personally present at Puttalam office of HRCSL with his father to submit the complaint.

Ahnaf has named, among others, Mr. Rajiv Shrimal, Superintendent, Colombo Remand Prison, Baseline Road, Colombo 09 and Mr. H.M.T.N. Upuldeniya, Commissioner General of Prisons as Respondents in his complaint.

His complaint runs as follows:

“I was unlawfully arrested by the Counter-Terrorism and Investigation Division (CTID) on the 16 May 2020 at my home at Pandaraweli under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). My father complained about my arrest to the HRCSL (complaint bearing No.HRC/MN/029/2020 dated on or about 22nd May 2020) and this unlawful arrest is challenged in the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka in Fundamental Rights Case No. SCFR 114/2021.

The CTID kept me in detention for one year under purported Detention Orders and reported facts against me as a suspect in the Colombo Magistrate Court Case No. B44230//8/20. Thereafter, I was remanded by order of the learned Magistrate on 12 June 2021 at Colombo Remand Prison. On 12 August 2021, Hon. Attorney General had filed an indictment against me in the Puttalam High Court. The CTID reported filing of indictment to the learned Magistrate Court on the 26 October 2021 and thus the aforesaid Magistrate Court case No. B44230//8/20 was concluded on that date.

I was served the indictment on the 15 November 2021 by the Puttalam High Court and the matter was then taken up on the 15 December 2021, when bail was considered for me. Hon. Attorney General consented for Bail being granted to me and, thus the Hon. High Court granted me bail upon several conditions at around 11.30am on the said date, 15 December. Once two of the Bail conditions, namely, submitting three sureties of Rs.500,000/- each and tendering of an affidavit of mine saying that I do not possess a Passport, were fulfilled, I was ordered to be released on the 15th itself. I fulfilled both these conditions by about 1.30pm on the 15th itself. (A copy of the said High Court Order is attached hereto marked as C1)

However, in spite of fulfilling the said Bail conditions as ordered by the Hon. High Court, CRP officers refused to release me on the day claiming that they have to check whether I was still required for the aforesaid Magistrate Court Case No. B44230//8/20. My lawyers pointed out to the said CRP officers that the said Magistrate Court case is concluded and indictment has been filed, and that I am no further required for the said Magistrate Court case, which did not exist after 26th October 2021. However, still the CRP officers did not release me and finally, around 4.30pm on the said 15th December, the CRP officers arbitrarily carried me back to CRP in Colombo from Puttalam.

On the following day, 16 December 2021 morning, My lawyers filed a motion in the said case No. B44230//8/20, supported the same and obtained an order from the Colombo Magistrate Court directing CRP to act according to the High Court Bail Order. I was finally released from CRP only around 4.30pm on 16 December 2021.

In the circumstances, I state that the CRP officers and their superior officers including the Respondents above named have kept me in unlawful detention and/or custody for about 27 hours and thereby have breached my Fundamental Rights to personal liberty, dignity and freedom guaranteed to me under Articles 11, 12(1), 13(2), 13(5) of the Constitution of the Republic of Sri Lanka.”

In his complaint, Ahnaf has asked for the commission’s declaration that his Fundamental Rights to personal liberty, dignity and freedom guaranteed to him under Articles 11, 12(1), 12(2), 13(1), 13(2), 13(5) of the Constitution of the Republic of Sri Lanka have been breached by the Respondents and/or their subordinates or authorized officers.

He also requests for a recommendation that an administrative mechanism be established to immediately release suspects from Remand Prison just as bail is granted by a Court, if and/or when there is no remand order pending against him.

Ahnaf is also seeking compensation to be paid to him by the State and/or the Respondents of a sum of Rs. 5,000,000.00 (Five Million Rupees ) for the breach of his fundamental rights.

( Tweet by Sanjaya Wilson Jayasekera )


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